How do you get your creative juices flowing?
I get that question a lot from fellow freelancers, and unfortunately there’s no perfect answer because we’re all different and we all have a different working style.
But for those of you who have asked, here are my top 5 creativity killers and how I manage to stay focused, productive and creative.
#1 — Multi-Tasking And Distractions
I know some people have mastered the art of multi-tasking and working on tons of things at once. I tried and it’s not for me. There is no way I can focus on a project while trying to reply to emails, talk on the phone and chat on Skype. In order to get my creative juices flowing I absolutely need to focus all my attention and energy on one thing: work on that project.
Multi-tasking is not for me, but I can get just as much done in a day as someone who multi-tasks. It’s actually really easy and it’s nothing new, all you need is a schedule and you have to stick to it. When I need to work on a project and I find that I’m not inspired (say it’s a design for a client) I simply turn off my phone, close my emails get rid of all distractions and then get back to work. It works every single time.
I find I get much more done in 2 hours when I’m focussed than I do in 8 hours multi-tasking.
#2 — Lack Of Sleep
One of the cool things about freelancing is that you can work your own hours. That’s great! But for many of us it also means working evenings and week-ends and sometimes not sleeping much! There is always work that needs to be done, and clients that need our attention.
Lack of sleep can be a real creativity killer! How can you focus on something and be inspired when you’re dead tired? Work is still gonna be there tomorrow! Get a good night sleep and come back the next day with new ideas and a fresh perspective!
On a side note, our very own Dave Navarro has a program called ‘Becoming An Early Riser‘ and I have to say it helped me a lot in getting up earlier and getting more stuff done in a day. Try it and see if it works for you!
#3 — Fear Of Rejection
I’m sure it happened to all of us at some point, the fear of rejection. It’s not fun and it can definitely kill your creativity. There is no way you can please everyone and it’ll happen you will present something to a client and it’ll get rejected. It happens.
By all means, do not take it personally! Instead, try to use that (sometimes negative) energy and use it in a productive and creative way. Learn from that experience and go back to that drawing board and kick some ass. Always remember that if you got hired to do some work it’s because that person thinks you’re talented and remember that you’re probably not the first freelancer this person contacted for the project.
#4 — Financial Insecurity
It’s not easy to focus on a project when all you think about is your car payment, your credit cards and the mortgage. I used to always worry about money when I quit my day job a couple years ago because I was so used to the security of a paycheck every two weeks! The first year was very difficult and I was never sure I’d be able to make that car payment and then I realized I could just raise my prices a bit and I would then be able to put some money aside and voila!
I’m a web-designer and I have no idea what the average per hour rate is in Canada, nor do I care. There will always be someone willing to do the job for cheaper than me. And I’m fine with that! At the end of the day it all comes down to how much time you’re willing to trade for a certain amount of money. I prefer charging slightly more, focus on less projects and and have more time for other things like personal projects (which will bring me money in the long run).
#5 — Pressure And Deadlines
Some clients have very high expectations, and it’s understandable. Remember, they pay your bills! But can you really be creative when you’re under heavy pressure? Some people have no problem with stress but for those of us who do it’s fairly easy to make sure you’re never under pressure and still always deliver!
Always under-promise. Say you have a design gig and you know it’ll take you 3 weeks to complete it, well simply tell your client it’ll take 4 weeks! Works wonder, no stress and happy clients every time!
About the author: Jon is a full-time freelancer, blogger and designer, he loves WordPress and plays guitar in a heavy act. he can also be found on Twitter.